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Published: 12/13/2013

Meijer greeter in northern Michigan says he was fired for helping customer put out truck fire


GAYLORD, Mich. — A retired mail carrier said he’s been fired from a job as a greeter at a Meijer store in northern Michigan after rushing to the parking lot to put out a vehicle fire.

David Bowers, 62, said he grabbed a fire extinguisher when a customer entered the Gaylord store last month pleading for help. Meijer won’t specifically comment on the matter but said it has policies for dealing with an emergency.

“The one supervisor told me that my heart was in the right place but my brain wasn’t,” Bowers told TV station WPBN-WTOM (http://bit.ly/18J8y3J ).

His wife, Lynn Bowers, said they decided to go public after receiving a cheery Christmas card from Meijer just a few days ago.

“I was furious. We couldn’t believe it,” she told The Associated Press on Friday. “It was the perfect job for him. He loves to talk.”

Ken Kuzon, the customer who needed help, said his dashboard was on fire. He and Bowers quickly put out the flames, and Bowers returned to his post greeting shoppers.

“My truck would’ve been completely burned. ... I just think it’s ridiculous. Why should you be penalized for being a Good Samaritan?” Kuzon said.

Meijer, a major Midwestern retailer based in Grand Rapids, released a statement, suggesting Bowers should not have dashed to the truck.

“We have well-established safety procedures for emergency situations, and we train all team members on those procedures,” Meijer said. “These procedures help ensure the safety of everyone, both customers and team members, and our team members know there are consequences when they don’t follow them.”

Lynn Bowers said her husband had worked at Meijer for about 4½ years. They both delivered mail for years in the Detroit area before retiring from the U.S. Postal Service and moving to northern Michigan.

She said her husband once got in hot water for chasing a shoplifter but otherwise had a good record at Meijer.

“He’s very bummed out,” Lynn Bowers said. “It’s a split-second decision you make. He was never told there was a procedure for a car fire.”

In October, a Wal-Mart employee in Michigan’s Livingston County was fired after he tried to stop an assault in the parking lot while he was outside on a break. The retailer later invited him to return to work.

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